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Synthesis Skills: Making the Connection

Imagine trying to put together the pieces of a puzzle without ever seeing the picture you are supposed to be completing. How would you begin the puzzle? Would you start by finding all of the pieces that fit around the edges, or would you start by finding pieces of similar color?

Synthesis questions are like puzzles. They measure the ability of a student to create a whole from pieces of information.

In real life, adults use their synthesis skills to

  • Write a letter of application for a new job or a résumé. Using their past job experiences, skills they possess, and the requirements of the new job, they create a résumé or letter tailored to a new situation.
  • Make decisions about moving to a new home. A move requires a person to collect many kinds of information: the cost and availability of housing in the new location, the locations and quality of schools or day-care centers, the potential job market, availability of public transportation, etc. All this information must be synthesized as the basis for an important—sometimes costly—decision.